September 2022

University alumnus and champion for young people made Honorary Fellow

By Melanie Hall

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Professor Paul Cadman – champion for opening up opportunities for young people – has been made an Honorary Fellow of University College Birmingham, where he himself studied professional cookery 30 years ago. 

Supporting, developing and leading businesses ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to globally recognised brands, the ‘son of Birmingham' was presented with the honour at this year’s university graduation ceremonies at the ICC Symphony Hall, Birmingham. 

Paul – who has dyslexia and has faced many prejudices those with learning difficulties experience – started out working in the Birmingham markets.

He is now a national and international award-winning inclusive leader – with a demonstrated history of success working in technology, manufacturing, retail, consultancy and membership organisations.

"Paul is a great supporter of our university and a passionate advocate and champion for opening opportunities for young people"

Jose Lopes Executive Director for External Engagement

He has taken businesses from conception to £100m+ turnover based largely on organic growth, experience, strategy and contacts. 

Paul spent his early years in the inner-city areas of Bordesley Green, a part of the city he continues to support to this day. Known as the ‘quiet changemaker’, he has made it a personal mission to ensure no-one is excluded from the opportunity to excel.  

Paul received his honorary fellowship at the University's graduation ceremonies last month

Paul, who won Brummie of the Year at the Birmingham Awards 2021, said: "I left school struggling in education because of my then undiagnosed dyslexia, which is why I acutely understand the challenges and perceived barriers young people can face.  

“To receive an Honorary Fellowship from the place where I trained and started my journey is a great achievement for me. I look forward to working closely with the University to stimulate entrepreneurialism and find further ways to strengthen employability for students.”  

As well as his many business interests, Paul sits on many charitable boards locally and nationally, and is the Chair of Steps to Work.

He is also Vice-chair of BYSA, a trustee of St Basils, Vice-chair of World against Single Use Plastic (WASUP) and Vice-president of Acorns Children’s Hospice, which provides care, support, fun and laughter for children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families.  

Jose Lopes, Executive Director for External Engagement at University College Birmingham, said: “Described by the Mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street, as the most connected man in the region, Paul is a great supporter of our university and a passionate advocate and champion for opening opportunities for young people.  

“He is also passionate about combating the perceived lack of home-grown talent available to our local employers.

“We are very proud to have him as one of Honorary Fellows, joining the likes of acclaimed chefs Brian Turner CBE and Glynn Purnell.”  

Our Honorary Fellows 2022

The Honorary Fellowship, one of the highest honours a university can bestow, is reserved for those who have made an outstanding contribution to an institution – either as members of staff or close associates.

This year’s other Honorary Fellows:

John being presented with his fellowship award by chef Glynn Purnell

John Penn

Former assistant dean of Birmingham College of Food

John joined the University in 1991 as a chef lecturer before spending several highly successful years in industry. He re-joined the University in 2004 as food production co-ordinator and was recognised quickly within the department for having an excellent rapport with students and possessing outstanding industry knowledge.

He progressed swiftly to become assistant dean and then served as external relations lead for the department at education and industry events nationwide, and is widely recognised now as the ambassador of our food and hospitality offer.

Gail Kavanagh and Caroline Norton

Halls of residence managers

Described as ‘wonderful pillars of support’, Gail and Caroline have helped thousands of students living away from home for the first time, making immeasurable contributions to improving student experiences.

The pair started out as cooks at what was the college hostel at Summer Row in the 1970s, before being promoted to wardens and then manager and assistant manager of Cambrian Hall and the new halls at The Maltings in Birmingham’s Granville Street in 1996.

Both former students of the University, they have worked so closely over the years that they describe themselves as ‘sisters’.

Vera Lee

Vera Lee

Long-serving member of the University’s Corporation

A passionate friend and supporter of the University, Vera has played an integral part in strategically vital decisions, including the development of Moss House and McIntyre House, and has served as Chair of the Student Services and Standards Committee.

With over 35 years’ experience, she has provided technical assistance and consultancy services in the reform and modernisation of technical and vocational education in Eastern Europe, Asia, East Africa, North Africa and West Africa on European Commission, World Bank and United Nations Development Programme projects.

Royston Jesson

Royston Jesson

Strategic developer of our campuses

Roy has supported our strategic aspirations to provide the best physical spaces for students to learn in for 30 years. During the 1990s and 2000s, Roy, an architect by trade, worked with our estates team to manage the development of The Maltings, refurbishment of Cambrian Hall, and development of Richmond House.

He recently stepped in to lead on the refurbishment of Summer Row to restore it into a world-class facility for further education students. While supposedly retired, he continues to be incredibly generous with his time and expertise to benefit our students.

Professor Jonathan Green

Chair of the Accreditation Committee

Jonathan has been the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Birmingham since 2013 and a strong advocate for our mission.

Originally a biochemist, he was appointed to a lectureship in Plant Biology at the University of Birmingham in 1985 and became a senior lecturer before becoming Head of Education at the School of Biosciences from 2008 to 2011.

Professor Green has presided over the graduation ceremonies for University of Birmingham awards since 2020.

Suzanne Smith

Suzanne Smith

Apprenticeship Manager at Cygnet Healthcare

A former alumna, Su studied NNEB Nursery Nursing in 1982 and in the past 12 months has been an incredible source of support to the University in its development of our Level 4 and 5 healthcare apprenticeships. Her passion has been to provide a pathway for staff to develop academically as mature learners, even if they have been out of study for several years.

Su has devoted many hours of her own time to our recent NMC validation and approval event for the Nursing Associate Apprenticeship, and she will be taking part in the Adult and Mental Health validations later in the year.

Adam Layland

Adam Layland

Chair of BSI Committee for healthcare organisation management

Adam joined Staffordshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust as a volunteer and GP out-of-hours call taker, before becoming a paramedic with West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust. He went on to hold roles as the Head of Transformation and Head of Operations for the region and is the UK Chair of the BSI Committee on Healthcare Organisation Management.

He has been supporting us in finding innovative approaches to healthcare workforce development, notably with the recent approval of the Nursing Associate Foundation Degree Apprenticeship programme.

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